UPDATED: The Rocks Off 100: Kimberly M'Carver, Missouri City's Nightingale

Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photos courtesy of Kimberly M'Carver
UPDATED (Thursday, 6:30 p.m.) Corrects the spelling M'Carver's last name and the songbird she was compared to by Jimmy LaFave. Our apologies to Ms. M'Carver.

Who? Sometimes a hunch will pay off. Kimberly M'Carver's -- not McCarver -- latest CD, Hard Waltz, showed up in the mail here at the Press a week or two ago. Rocks Off did not recognize her name (forgive us), but knew enough names on the one-sheet bio to raise an eyebrow. The muscians who appear on Hard Waltz have also worked with Little Big Town, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant and Austin acoustic sprites the Greencards, among others.

Once we had a listen to Hard Waltz, those names made a little more sense. M'Carver's fourth album, it's a no-frills, perfectly produced, largely acoustic set that should fit comfortably on your trad-country shelf next to the Dolly Parton, Kendalls and Sweethearts of the Rodeo records. Absent of any pickup trucks, shotguns, or crossover-pop ambitions, Hard Waltz requires little more than M'Carver's pristine soprano to carry it home. (Veteran Austin folksinger Jimmy LaFave once likened her voice to a meadowlark nightingale, which fits pretty well.)

Turns out M'Carver has quite the resume. The native of Mesquite near Dallas says she's been singing and dancing since childhood. After college at UT-Austin -- she was a voice major, and puts her training to good use on Hard Waltz -- M'Carver began fronting Houston-area cover bands and in the early and mid-'90s was a regular name in the Houston Press and Public News Music Awards nominations. Eventually a homemade tape of her songs wound its way to Rounder Records; when the reps went to see her at Last Concert Cafe (when it was 27 degrees out, she says), they offered her a contract on the spot.

That led to the well-received albums Breathe the Moonlight and Inherited Road, which stirred up some activity on the Americana charts. Jim Lauderdale and Grammy-nominated bluegrass singer Claire Lynch appeared on M'Carver's next album Cross the Danger Line, which she co-produced herself alongside Scott Neubert. He and Lynch are back for Hard Waltz.

Home Base: M'Carver now lives in Missouri City ("Fort Bend's proudest"), and plays monthly at Heights Boulevard barbecue joint Hickory Hollow besides gigs at other local venues such as Anderson Fair and the Mucky Duck. Non-music-wise, she's partial to Sprinkles Cupcakes (4014 Westheimer in Highland Village) and visits often: "Blatant plug for a free cupcake."

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